Gave talk at the annual Association for Psychological Science on Sat. Was on a panel that featured great presentations by Leaf Van Boven, Rick Larrick & Ed O'Brien. Maybe I'll be able to induce them to do short guest posts on their presentations, although understandably, they might be shy about become instant world-wide celebrities by introducing their work to this sites 14 bilion readers.
Anyway, my talk was on the perplexing, paradoxical effect of "according to climate scientists" or ACS prefix (slides here).
As 6 billion of the readers of this blog know-- the other 8 have by now forgotten b/c of all the other cool things that have been featured on the blog since the last time I mentioned this--attributing positions on the contribution of human beings to global warming, and the consequences thereof, to "climate scientists" magically dispels polarization on responses to cliimate science literacy questions.
Here's what happens when "test takers" (members of a large, nationally representative sample) respond to two such items that lack the magic ACS prefix:
Now, compare what happens with the ACS prefix:
Does this make sense?
Sure. Questions that solicit respondents’ understanding of what scientists believe about the causes and consequences of human-caused global warming avoid forcing individuals to choose between answers that reveal what they know about what science knows, on the one hand, and ones that express who they are as members of cultural groups, on the other.
Here's a cool ACS prefix corollary:
Notice that the "Nuclear power" question was a lot "harder" than the "Flooding" one once the ACS prefix nuked (as it were) the identity-knowledge confound. Not surprisingly, only respondents who scored the highest on the Ordinary Science Intelligence assessment were likely to get it right.
But notice too that those same respondents--the ones highest in OSI--were also the most likely to furnish the incorrect identity-expressive responses when the ACS prefix was removed.
Of course! They are the best at supplying both identity-expressive and science-knowledge-revealing answers. Which one they supply depends on what they are doing: revealing what they know or being who they are.
The ACS prefix is the switch that determines which of those things they use their reason for.
Okay but what about this: do rspts of opposing political ordinations agree on whether climate scientists agree on whether human-caused climate change is happening?
Of course not!
In modern liberal democratic societies, holding beliefs contrary to the best available scientific evidence is universally understood to be a sign of stupidity. The cultural cogniton of scientific consensus describes the psychic pressure that members of all cultural groups experience, then, to form and persist in the belief that their group’s position on a culturally contested issue is consistent with the best avaialbel scientific evidence.
But that's what creates the "WTF moment"-- also known as a "paradox":
Um ... I dunno!
That's what I asked the participants--my fellow panelists and the audience members (there were only about 50,000 people, because were scheduled against some other pretty cool panels) to help me figure out!
They had lots of good conjectures.
How about you?